Some places in Florence serve this soup with a fork.
1/2 pound cannellini or Jacob's Cattle beans
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 pound thickly sliced pancetta, finely chopped
2 large parsnips, peeled and finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 large potato, peeled and finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 small red onions, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 turnips, peeled and finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
3 garlic cloves, smashed with a heavy knife
10 sprigs of flat-leaf parsley
one 2-inch sprig of fresh rosemary
1 1/4 -pound red cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
14-ounce can peeled tomatoes, drained and put through a food mill to remove seeds
small loaf of Italian bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Parmigiano-Reggiano for grating
great Tuscan extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
1. Soak the beans in cold water to cover by 2 inches in a large kettle overnight. (Alternatively, you can quick soak by bringing the beans and enough cold water to cover by 2 inches to a boil over moderately high heat in a large kettle. Boil the beans for 2 minutes, and remove the kettle from heat. Cover and let stand for 1 hour.) Discard bean-soaking water. Place beans in a large saucepan with 3 quarts cold water. Bring the water just to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer beans for 40 minutes, or until tender but still firm to the bite, skimming any scum that rises to the surface. Remove half of the beans, purée in a food mill, and return purée to the whole beans and water in the pan. Stir well, season with salt and pepper, and reserve.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy Dutch oven over moderately low heat, add the pancetta and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until pancetta is beginning to crisp. Add the parsnips, potato, onions, carrots, turnips, garlic and herb sprigs, increase the heat to moderate, and cook, stirring, for 6 minutes. Stir in the cabbage and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes.
3. Add the reserved bean-bean purée-water mixture to the vegetable mixture in the Dutch oven, and simmer the mixture for 15 to 20 minutes. (The cabbage should be tender, and the soup should be medium-thick.)
4. Measure out 8 lightly packed cups of bread cubes. (Reserve the rest for another use.) Lay them out on a baking sheet, and place them in a preheated 400°F oven for 10 minutes, or until lightly toasted.
5. Stir bread cubes into soup, cover, and let stand at room temperature for at least 4 hours, or refrigerate, stirring occasionally, for up to 2 days.
6. When ready to serve, remove herb sprigs and garlic cloves. Stir vigorously to break up bread. The soup may be served cold, or at room temperature or heated. Serve with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and a drizzle of great Tuscan olive oil.
Ribollita means reboiled, and the soup is traditionally reboiled Tuscan minestrone. The minestrone is often made in very large quantities so there will be enough left for ribollita most Tuscans prefer the ribollita to the minestrone. Cabbage is added, usually the black cabbage of Tuscany, cavolo nero. We use red cabbage as a substitute. Then comes the bread, which turns the soup into a thick mush in fact, some places in Florence serve it with a fork. Ours is a bit lighter than the traditional one, but you should, by all means, drizzle great Tuscan extra-virgin olive oil over the finished product. The following recipe doesn't require you to make a minestrone first; in essence, you can make a bollita that tastes just as good as ribollita. Serves 8 to 10